I was asked to share what a day in the life of a project manager might look like. What follows is a compilation of several different projects with a little mix of how being a project manager mixes into your non-work life.

Project schedule

5:00 a.m. – As the alarm continues to ring, I wonder why I am doing this, but according to my schedule, I’ve got to complete this task today. If I don’t get it done early, it won’t get done.

I am still trying to figure out how I let some of my co-workers peer pressure encourage me to run a half marathon. Today, on my training schedule, I have a run to complete; otherwise I will not meet my final objective of completing the half-marathon.

No, this is not a blog post about running; it is about project management. Though, once you are a project manager, you start to see other activities in terms of how you would structure your project.

7:30 a.m. – As in any project, it is important to know the objectives so you can know when you are done and if you were successful. The project at hand was to implement a new Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system at a hospital system. Sitting down at my desk, I reviewed my schedule for the day and realized we had a Quality Audit for my project to review if the objectives and methods we set out several months ago to work on for the project were still on track. I took the same approach when I decided to run the half-marathon. Did I want to win the race? Did I want to set a new personal best or did I just want to run the race with my co-workers and enjoy the experience? Depending upon my objectives, I had to tailor my training to achieve those goals.

7:55 a.m. – One of my team leads stops in and informs me that her key resource is out for the next week or two because of a family medical emergency. This will be a major blow to meeting our milestone on the project schedule. The team lead and I sit down to look at our Risk Plan and contingency around losing key resources.

8:30 a.m. – Time to catch-up on emails. Only 40 or so new ones, a mix of automated notifications from our project management tool, the regular five or so canned emails from vendors about the latest in project management training, several actual direct questions about the project, and way too many messages I get CC’d on from team members that feel I need to know every single decision they make. Need to remember to discuss with the team again when you should and should not CC someone and when you should just have a conversation.

9:00 a.m. – It is time for my project team’s weekly status update. As in any project there are challenges. The implementation of the EMR system by itself is fairly straight forward. The real challenge with this and most projects is the people side. Even though the hospital sanctioned the project, there are still many people who feel the new system will detract from patient care, threaten people’s jobs or unnecessarily change the way they work. The status meeting topics covered:

  • Review of outstanding action items and issues
  • Reviews of progress on upcoming major milestones
  • Review of project risks and triggers
  • Discussion of how to handle the loss of a key resource

No big surprises in the team meeting, which is good. The team did feel we may be able to fill some of the gap of the lost resource by working with our outsourcing partners in India. I’ve added that to the agenda for my call with them tonight.

10:00 a.m. – Time for the Quality Audit. These can sometimes be very tedious meetings because it can sometimes feel like an inquisition, but luckily our auditor was from the Project Management Office. She approaches audits as a chance to help the project versus finding fault with the team. The audit did find we had not been performing our monthly project progress checkpoints with our external stakeholders. It was a good catch and something to make sure we cover soon. As I run a quick mental audit of my mini-marathon training, I realize I have not been keeping up with my post run stretches. Not a good thing to be skipping as my miles increase.

11:55 a.m. – One of the Senior Executives who is less than supportive of the project drops by my office and wants to discuss the project schedule and why he feels we need to delay the go-live of the project by months. No lunch today. I keep reminding myself to be patient, listen and determine if he has some points worth considering or if he is just looking for excuses to delay the work. As I sat and listened to him, I realized I may have been making some excuses in my own training when I would skip those runs because I thought it was too dark or cold to get out of my warm bed.

2:00 p.m. – I’ve blocked off my schedule to complete a large presentation I have to give to the hospital governing board. This is a group that originally approved the project and they requested an update on how the project was progressing. Creating this type of presentation is an arduous task. It involves multiple revisions and reviews with my boss, triple checking every small detail and anticipating and preparing for questions/challenges from the Board. I liken it to when my running schedule says I have a long run to make. There is some dread as I think about the impending run and the preparation needed to go a further distance than I have in a long time. But, there is a feeling of accomplishment when the Board presentation is done and the long run is complete. The hard work and preparation enable that feeling;it just doesn’t happen by Project Management magic.

5:30 p.m. – I sent my Board presentation slide deck to my boss for his final review and began to respond to the thirty new emails I’ve received throughout the day.


8:00 p.m. – After dinner, I had a Webex Conference call with our outsourced testing team in India discussing the deliverables they would work on while the team in the states slept. Also, I determined they would be able to help out in the area where we lost that key resource.

5:00 a.m. – Nope, not up yet; thank goodness this is a rest day on my running schedule. But, I just remembered – do I have an early morning meeting with my Project Sponsor? Now, I’ve got to grab my phone and check what is on my project schedule for the day. Might as well get up :  )


Quote: Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves – to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today. – Stewart B. Johnson.